Maritime historian to give talk on reviving Ireland's oldest racing class

The Back to the Future talk which takes place on Friday, January 20 at 8:30pm in the Galway Bay Sailing Club Clubhouse, will see Hal Sisk, best known as a maritime historian and a serial restorer of classic Irish yachts, discuss one of the country's oldest racing classes.

Galway Bay Sailing Club member Olga Scully in the newly restored 'Naneen'.

Galway Bay Sailing Club member Olga Scully in the newly restored 'Naneen'.

The focus of the event will be the history of the Dublin Bay 21s, a project which has brought seven 120-year-old one-design keelboats back to light and the plan for their future use and custodianship.

Sisk has previously lectured on maritime, yachting and military history across five continents, from Maine to Tasmania, and is the chairman of the (international ) Association of Yachting Historians. Sisk has received many accolades for his work, including Classic Boater of the Year in 2022 and the premier award of the Irish Cruising Club.

An avid sailor from childhood, he has sailed, rowed and raced in small and large boats and is a former co-founder of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing association, as well as cruising 23,000 miles in his unique motorboat, 'Molly Bán'. Perhaps his most unusual project was the building and sailing of a replica of 'Simon and Jude', the first catamaran of the western world built in 1663.

He will be joined by Fionán de Barra, a man who has been sailing in Dublin Bay since 1957. A joint owner of 'Maureen', de Barra became a sole owner of the 'Garavogue' in 1973. de Barra is a lifelong member of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and of Arklow Sailing club. An architect by profession, de Barra has cruised extensively in Irish coastal waters as well as Scotland, Holland, France and the Mediterranean.

de Barra recalls seeing the 21's sailing under their original gag riff, topsails and all, although by the time he sailed on the 21's, the rig had then been altered to the controversial Bermudan rig.

The Dublin Bay 21 Footer Class Association was formed in 2017, with Sisk as Chairman and de Barra as secretary. The Association, as the owner of all seven boats, is now engaged in the revival of this historic class.

The Galway Bay Sailing Club would like to welcome those interested to attend what is promised to be a very informative and insightful talk on this historic boat class.


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